As a teen, how can I lose weight in a healthy way?

Managing your weight and being happy with your look is hard for anyone, especially a teen who's subject to peer pressure and images of skinny celebs. But bodies come in different sizes, and you can be healthy at a variety of weights. If your doctor has suggested you lose weight, though, and you're tired of living as an overweight teen, you want to drop pounds now. Two weeks gives you time to jump-start a healthier eating plan and gradually increase exercise. You may not lose a large amount of weight in 14 days, but you will be on your way to a healthier body for the long term.

Skip the Fad Diets

Fad diets usually ban entire food groups and make wild promises about weight loss. Often these promises are empty and leave you nutritionally deficient. Your bones, muscles, brain and other organs are still developing, and you need optimal nutrition to thrive. Even in two weeks, overly restricting your food intake can have dire consequences. A teen should eat a minimum of 1,600 calories per day to avoid missing out on essential vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. A fad diet usual has rebound effects, too. You're likely to regain the weight -- and possibly more -- once you go off the plan.

Also stay away from supplements or meal replacements. The ingredients aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and can be of poor quality or even dangerous. Skipping meals is also a poor weight-loss strategy. You may find yourself so hungry that you binge or make poor choices when the next opportunity to eat comes around.

Revise Your Meal Choices

Instead of limiting portions or denying yourself certain foods, focus on best-quality options so you crowd out higher-calorie, processed foods. Go for foods you find in the perimeter of the grocery store that have minimal packaging, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy, meats, fish and poultry, and whole grains. Avoid foods found in the middle aisles, where marketers locate processed snack bars, chips and soda. Go shopping with your family, or ask if you can put items on the grocery list, so that these foods are available at home.

Meals that support a healthy weight might include eggs scrambled with chopped vegetables, along with a whole-wheat English muffin; plain oatmeal with berries and milk; a grilled chicken sandwich on whole-wheat bread with tomatoes and lettuce; salad with broiled steak and mixed vegetables; or roast turkey with brown rice and steamed vegetables. Snack on low-fat yogurt, string cheese, fresh fruit or whole-wheat crackers.

Become a More-Active Teen

Adding more physical activity can make you feel and look better, even in two weeks' time. Use the 14 days to build up to the hour of physical activity you need daily to be healthy. You don't have to sign up for the tennis team or run for miles, however. Walk your dog, dance to your favorite tunes in your bedroom or dust off your bike and go for a leisurely ride.

Extreme exercise for hours per day isn't sustainable and could cause injury or burn out -- even in two weeks. To add more movement and help with your quest to drop a few pounds, offer to help out around the house. Do the laundry, wash the car or help mow the lawn. Do some strengthening exercises too; opt for pushups and triceps dips against the coffee table; take your little brother to the playground and actually play with him; or join a fitness center with classes specific to teens.

Limit the time you spend sitting when you're at home. The more time you're in front of the television or video screen, the less time you're moving. Even after your two-week deadline, keep up with an hour of daily activity to keep your body healthy and continue to manage your weight.

Create a Mindset for Weight Loss

Ask your family to support your efforts, especially if you're trying to lose weight to improve your health. Request that they limit junk food in the house and visit restaurants with healthy options. Organize a family hike or weekend bike ride.

Use the two weeks to tune into your eating habits, too. Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself if you're truly hungry -- or just bored. Also notice if school stress or friend issues cause you to reach into the pantry. Call a friend, write in a journal or go for a walk if anxiety tends to make you eat. At meals, take your time to chew slowly so you truly taste your food and register feelings of fullness -- it can take 20 minutes for you to recognize this sensation. Avoid eating in front of the television so you don't mindlessly overconsume because you're distracted.

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